By Mike Miller
The New Mexico Legislative Session came to a close at noon on Feb. 20. The session ended in a flurry and in the end 91 bills were passed along with four constitutional amendments. Of the 91 bills, all but two of them were passed in the last 2 ½ days of the session. The Legislature did their assigned duty and passed a budget late Wednesday evening.
Besides the budget, the Legislature really only had a few other bills that had to be addressed: legislation to secure matching dollars for federal dollars to come to rural hospitals, a general obligation bond (infrastructure for universities and state government), and a “capital outlay” bill.
The session was very quiet for our industry. There was only one bill that passed that may have some bearing on the industry: SB 41 carried by Sen. Steve Neville of Aztec. If signed, this bill will allow more friendly provisions for retesting for commercial driver’s licenses.
There were really no significant legislation that was adversely directed at the industry. I suppose that, it being a “fiscal” session, the opposition came to the realization that those type bills would not be germane and that Gov. Martinez wouldn’t give them a message. There were, however, a couple of onerous memorials introduced that perhaps give a window into what we may expect for next year.
House Memorial 76 and House Memorial 92 were introduced. Memorials are expressions of desire and have no force of law. HM 76 would have requested the Oil Conservation Division to post information on their website regarding the number of inspectors, as well as violations and the impact on ground water and other financial data. HM 92 would have stated the House of Representatives supports the right of local governments to mitigate the negative effects of oil and gas development. Neither memorial even got a hearing in House Energy even though they were scheduled on a couple of occasions. House Energy was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans.
As mentioned in earlier reports, this is an election year for the Governor and the House of Representatives. Several representatives have already indicated that they will not seek re-election. On the Republican side, these include Tom Taylor of Farmington, Anna Crook of Clovis, Bill Gray of Artesia, and House Minority Floor Leader Don Bratton of Hobbs. On the Democrat side, these include Majority Floor Leader Rick Miera of Albuquerque, Appropriations Chairman Kiki Saavedra of Albuquerque, House Taxation and Revenue Committee Chairman Ed Sandoval of Albuquerque, Ernest Chavez of Albuquerque, and Nate Cote of Las Cruces. March 12 was filing day for all House seats.
Mike Miller is President of Professional Directions–Governmental Relations and Consulting. Mr. Miller has been representing PBPA in Santa Fe since 2009. Mr. Miller also serves on his local City Council and is a member of the NM Amigos.